Senators on West PH Sea collision: ‘A huge insult’ to Filipinos

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 13, 2019   •   2470

Several senators have condemned the reported collision of a Chinese vessel and a Filipino vessel on Sunday (June 9), deeming it ‘a huge insult’ to Filipinos.

Sen. Joel Villanueva called the actions of the Chinese crew as irresponsible after they left the 22 Filipino crewmen in the West Philippine Sea.

“We strongly condemn the irresponsible actions of the Chinese vessel’s crew. Saving the lives of fellow seafarers should be top priority regardless of nationality or flag. The incident shows the need for greater accountability and enforcement of international laws in the West Philippine Sea,” he said in his statement.

READ: Locsin files diplomatic protest vs China after West PH Sea collision

Senators Franklin Drilon shares the same sentiment with Senator Panfilo Lacson. They are both questioning the friendly relationship between China and the Philippines.

Senator Lacson calls for a talk between the country’s leaders.

“This incident calls for a leader-to-leader talk. As I said, nothing short of serious punitive action by the Chinese government against those responsible can convince us of a real friendly relationship between our peoples,” he said.

According to Director, Institute for Maritime Affairs & Law of the Sea- University of the Philippines Prof. Jay Batongbacal this is not the first time a Chinese vessel hit another country’s fishing vessel.

“Marami itong beses na nangyari sa Vietnam binabangga ng mga Chinese vessel iyong mga Vietnamese fishing vessel, (It had occurred numerous times in Vietnam where a Chinese vessel hit a Vietnamese fishing vessel)” he said.

Batongbacal also seeks accountability for what happened. He said that the Filipino crewmen should be given compensation.

“Kung hindi tayo aalma, kung palalampasin natin ito baka ang susunod na diyan lahat ng ating mga mangingisda diyan sa West Philippine sea ay gaganyanin din, babanggain, iha-harass hanggang sa umalis na tayo sa West Philippine Sea, (If we will not protest, they might also target other fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. They might harass us until we leave the West Philippine Sea)” Batongbacal added.(with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Senators mourn the passing of ex-DENR Sec. Gina Lopez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Gina Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Monday mourned the passing of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez.

In a statement, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he is deeply saddened by the passing of Lopez, whom he called a “fearless advocate and a tireless philanthropist,” who dedicated “most her life for the betterment of her fellow Filipinos.”

Go added that Lopez’s “exceptional” dedication to protecting the environment has “no equal today.”

“I had the honor of working with her when she was the environment secretary of the Duterte Administration. As a former colleague in the government, I know how passionate, dedicated and humble she was as a public servant and as an Earth warrior,” he said in a statement.

“Ma’am Gina, taos-pusong pasasalamat po sa inyong hindi napapantayang serbisyo sa kapwa Pilipino. Isa kang katangi-tanging modelo ng tunay na pagmamalasakit sa kapwa tao. May your legacy continue for generations to come,” he added.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel also expressed condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of the late DENR chief. He described Lopez as “a famous philanthropist and staunch children’s rights advocate.”

“I am saddened by the demise of such a great public servant and environmentalist as Gina Lopez. She will truly be remembered for her advocacies and contributions in the service of Filipinos,” Pimentel said.

“As the Filipinos mourn the untimely death of former Secretary Lopez, we also pray that her legacy lives on in every person and community her good heart has touched,” Pimentel added.

READ: Former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez dies at 65

Lopez passed away on Monday. She succumbed to multiple organ failure after battling brain cancer.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri recalled Lopez’s many efforts to preserve the environment and helping the aggrieved sectors of society especially poor children.

“Being the chief of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is just one of the many tasks she carried out well as part of our government. She brought her environmental activism into every Filipino home in her travels around our beautiful archipelago,” he said in a statement.

Zubiri also expressed admiration for Lopez’s causes and for her grace and sublime courage with which she faced the pains of her sickness.

“She walked her talk, be it in defense of helpless children or displaced communities, or in nursing back to life polluted waters or ravaged forests,” he said.

“While in government, her habit of speaking the inconvenient truth to power was actually a strength, and not a character flaw in a bureaucracy straitjacketed by niceties. Though her stint was cut short, Gina was a great ‘secretary of defense of our natural resources’,” he added.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also said many will remember the late environmentalist as “a woman of courage” and a “firebrand,” who pushed for her environmental and child protection advocacies without fear and hesitation.

“She was all that. In or out of government, her life was about tireless creativity for all our collective future, through our children and our environment,” he added.

Senator Sonny Angara likewise paid tribute to Lopez, describing her as a “one-person green warrior” who took her “selfless” fight for environment protection to “where it matters.”

“She spent a lifetime pouring her considerable talents in bringing to the mainstream the powerless and the voiceless who exist forgotten in the margins of society. She fought for children who were incapable of seeking justice and care for themselves and eloquently spoke for the people in the communities whose voices have been crushed by exploitation,” Angara said.

“She was a one-person green warrior who took the fight to where it matters – in boardrooms, chatrooms, government offices, and in her favorite office – out in the open, under a forest canopy or underwater, where she was in her element with people she loved in a country she never gave up hope on,” he added.

Angara also stated that Lopez’s passing has “left us a bucket list to comply with and follow.”

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, thanked Lopez for her efforts to protect the environment.

“Sec. Gina Lopez came in our midst and taught us love for mankind and the environment, our common home. Thank you for touching our lives in your impassioned way,” Poe said in a statement.

Filipinos in Hong Kong advised to avoid protest areas from August 14 to 25

Marje Pelayo   •   August 14, 2019

Protesters try to break into the parliament chamber of the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019. (Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Consulate General’s office in Hong Kong on Wednesday (August 14) advised Filipinos working and living there to avoid protest areas amid the escalating public unrest in the country.

According to its social media post, the Consulate General informed the Filipino community in Hong Kong of the following schedule of protests in the coming days:

August 14 (Wednesday) – Sham Shui Po area

August 15 (Thursday) – Wan Chai Taxation Office

August 17 (Saturday) – Chater Garden, Central to Central Government Offices, Admiralty; Hung Hom Pier to Sung Wong Toi Garden, Kowloon

August 18 (Sunday) – Victoria Park, Causeway Bay to Chater Road, Central

August 19 (Monday) – “Clean up MTR carriages”

August 25 (Sunday) – Kwan Tiang Theatre, Kwai Chung to Tsuen Wan Park

In line with this, the Consulate office also reminds Filipinos to refrain from wearing black and white as these are colors associated with the parties involved in the demonstrations.

Consulate officials also encourage Filipinos to immediately contact the Consulate’s hotline numbers in case of emergency related to the protest actions.

Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday resumed operations after flight disruptions over the past two days amid protest actions in the Chinese-controlled city.

Check-in counters reopened to queues of hundreds of stranded passengers who waited overnight for their flights.

About 200 flights in and out of Hong Kong were cancelled since demonstrators stormed the airport on Sunday as part of the months-long demonstrations by pro-democracy activists in an attempt to topple the China-leaning government of Chief Executive Carrie Lam. – MNP

Malacañang to Filipinos: Avoid travelling to Hong Kong for now

Marje Pelayo   •   August 14, 2019

A demonstrator was injured during the protest against Hong Kong-China extradition Law on July 27, 2019. (Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has advised Filipinos to refrain from travelling to Hong Kong for now as the ongoing demonstrations have crippled operations in the international airport there.

“Ang travel ban siguro with respect kung gusto mo pumunta sa (The travel ban perhaps is with respect to your choice to travel to Hong Kong.) This is not the right time to go there kasi ang flight mo biglang naka-cancel, (as your flight might suddenly get cancelled,)” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during a press briefing Tuesday (August 13).

Thousands of protesters swarmed Hong Kong International Airport’s main terminal on Monday (August 12) which led to cancellations of hundreds of outbound and inbound flights to and from the autonomous territory.

“Avoid muna going there, that’s the advice (because) you’re not sure you’re going to reach Hong Kong in the first place,” Panelo added.

When asked about a proposed ban on deployment of workers to Hong Kong, the Palace spokesperson said there is no need to declare such prohibition citing Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III since the protest movements as limited only to specific areas in Hong Kong.

“Nagkakagulo sa airport. Limited naman ang gulo sa airport, (The chaos is in the airport and it’s limited only within the airport,)” he said.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said in a statement that terminal operations at the airport “have been seriously disrupted, and all check-in processes have now been suspended.”

“Members of the public are advised not to come to the airport. All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible,” the statement said.

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